The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of May 4, 2015

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A wide-ranging collection of news and opinion from the previous week focusing on criminal justice policy, advocacy, and reform.

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De Blasio On City Council Decriminalization Proposal: I Agree With NYPD’s Bratton On “Broken Windows”

Speaking about a City Council plan to decriminalize low-level offenses, Mayor de Blasio said he’s in no rush to abandon “broken windows” policing. “I want to emphasize that my vision is the same as Police Commissioner Bratton’s …

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/de-blasio-agrees-bratton-broken-windows-article-1.2194751

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NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton Criticizes City Council’s Plan To Decriminalize Certain Infractions

NYC’s top cop blasted a plan to decriminalize a host of quality-of-life issues, saying it would weaken the NYPD’s ability to keep the city safe. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton used used the most forceful language yet to criticize …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nypd-commissioner-bill-bratton-criticizes-city-council-plan-article-1.2197839

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State’s Top Judge Says Some Minor Offenses Should Be Decriminalized

The New York state’s top judge came out forcefully in support of directing a number of the top “broken windows” charges to one of the city’s civil courts instead of the criminal court system. “I firmly believe it is time for some serious thinking about …

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/top-state-judge-minor-offenses-decriminalized-article-1.2200537

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Clinton Addresses Baltimore Riots In Impassioned Speech

In an impassioned speech at Columbia University, Hillary Rodham Clinton laced a heartfelt assessment of the recent deaths of young black men and the trials faced in poor black communities. “From Ferguson to Staten Island to Baltimore …”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/30/us/politics/baltimore-forces-presidential-hopefuls-to-confront-a-jarring-crisis.html

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Bill Clinton Calls For End To Mass Incarceration Of Americans, Ignoring His Own Role In Creating Policy

Along with President Reagan, President Clinton put in place the elements that created an explosion in mass incarcerations over the past three decades, sweeping a generation of Black men into Americans prisons and destroying …

https://atlantablackstar.com/2015/04/29/bill-clinton-calls-for-end-to-mass-incarceration-of-americans-ignoring-his-own-role-in-creating-policy/

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Exclusive Video: Violence Inside Rikers

In May, 2010, Kalief Browder was arrested for allegedly stealing a backpack. He insisted he was innocent, but he was taken to Rikers. We’ve obtained two videos that depict the dual horrors of his years in jail — abuse by a guard and by …

 http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/exclusive-video-violence-inside-rikers

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NYPD Cops Caught On Video Punching, Kicking Bronx Teen; Get 30 Days In Jail

A judge laid the smackdown on two Bronx cops who roughed up a teen suspect outside a police station. The pair were caught on video punching and kicking Tyre Davis — then just 17 — in an alleyway after he’d been processed for  …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/bronx-cops-caught-video-beating-teen-30-days-jail-article-1.2201285

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Rikers Island Meatloaf That Left 19 Inmates Sick Did Have Rat Poison, Lab Tests Confirm

The lawyer for 19 inmates suing NYC’s Dept. of Correction after they were sickened by meatloaf they were served at Rikers says lab testing has confirmed there was rat poison in the food. “There’s no justification for rat poison to be in …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/rikers-island-meatloaf-rat-poison-lab-tests-article-1.2201479

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National:
President Obama: “No Excuse” For Baltimore Riots

President Obama struck a stern tone in saying America needs to get serious about lifting up impoverished communities, to help alleviate the tension that simmers under the surface and breaks through during confrontations with law …

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/baltimore-riots-larry-hogan-117414.html

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National:
“Rough Rides” And The Challenges Of Improving Police Culture

A rough ride. Bringing them up front. A cowboy ride. Police say that intentionally banging a suspect around in the back of a van isn’t common practice. But the range of slang terms to describe the practice suggests it’s more common than …

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/the-rough-ride-and-police-culture/391538/

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National:
How For-Profit Prisons Have Become The Biggest Lobby No One Is Talking About; Sen. Marco Rubio Is One Of The Biggest Beneficiaries

Several industries have become notorious for the millions they spend on influencing legislation and getting friendly candidates into office. One has managed to quickly build influence with comparatively little scrutiny — private prisons …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/04/28/how-for-profit-prisons-have-become-the-biggest-lobby-no-one-is-talking-about/

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National:
As Attorney General, Loretta Lynch Plans Striking New Tone For The Justice Dept.

Loretta E. Lynch, who was confirmed as attorney general, will meet with local police officers nationwide this summer as she tries to strike a new tone for the Justice Department amid a roiling controversy over the use of lethal force …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/as-attorney-general-loretta-lynch-plans-to-shift-tone-for-justice-dept.html?_r=0

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National:
2016 Hopefuls See Need To Reform Mandatory Sentencing

Despite the vast ideological divide of candidates seeking the White House in 2016, there is a consensus on one issue — criminal justice reform. Where they differ is why it’s necessary. The NY Times reports that Hillary Clinton …

http://www.newsmax.com/Politics/criminal-justice-reform-Hillary-Clinton-Ted-Cruz/2015/04/28/id/641185/

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National:
What Good Is A Video You Can’t See?

Soon thousand of police officers across the country will don body cameras when they go out among the public. But once those millions of hours of footage have been captured, no one is sure what to do with them …

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/04/what-good-is-a-video-you-cant-see/391421/

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National:
National Project Aims To Expand College Programs In Prison

College education programs in prison cost-effectively reduce by half the likelihood people who have been incarcerated will return to prison. The Vera Institute of Justice launched an online resource center to build on the success of …

https://www.z2systems.com/np/clients/vera/viewOnlineEmail.jsp?emailId=c7351b3cc342a6880f4943dafed8feabcm7766282c73

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National:
States Are Required To Educate Students Behind Bars. Here’s What Really Happens.

 “A lot of kids go into juvenile-justice facilities, and that’s the end of their education,” notes Jessica Feierman of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia. Underlying this problem is a patchwork of dysfunctional local policies …

http://www.thenation.com/article/205129/states-are-required-educate-students-behind-bars-heres-what-really-happens

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National:
Oscar Winner John Legend Talks Blacks In Prison, Police Brutality On CNN

Oscar winner John Legend has emerged as a serious advocate for prison reform, having found Free America, an initiative to combat mass incarceration. On CNN’s State of the Union, he discussed the experiences his own family …

http://deadline.com/2015/04/john-legend-talks-free-america-the-oscars-and-black-incarceration-1201416674/

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National:
Opinion: Fix Our Criminal Justice System

Congress has two avenues to enact bipartisan “smart-on-crime” reforms. First, lawmakers can update the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. Last reauthorized in 2002, the act supports a state- and community-based approach …

http://thehill.com/opinion/letters/240228-fix-our-criminal-justice-system

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National:
Opinion: Federal Sentencing Reform Can Reduce Prison Crowding And Save Money 

Officials from Massachusetts to Nebraska have called for mandatory minimum sentencing reform in order to reduce the hundreds of thousands of inmates deluging the criminal justice system. Yet 200,000 inmates remain behind bars in …

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/judicial/240340-federal-sentencing-reform-can-reduce-prison-crowding-and-save

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National:
These JD-Carrying Exonerees Are Using Their Experiences To Right Wrongs

Wrongly imprisoned, these men spent many years behind bars for crimes they did not commit. While many prisoners dream of going to law school, these three did it. Now they’re working to prevent others from suffering unjust imprisonments …

http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/jd_carrying_exonerees_are_using_their_experiences_to_right_wrongs

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Arizona:
Phone Call Rates Squeeze Inmate Families, Boost AZ Prison Revenues

Prison rights advocates say the calling costs inmate families face are the result of contracts between phone providers and prison systems that give phone service monopolies to providers while providing an additional revenue stream to prisons …

http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/local/report/042815_prison_phones/phone-call-rates-squeeze-inmate-families-boost-az-prison-revenues/

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Florida:
Legislators Take Ownership Of Prison Reform With New Plan

The investigative staff at the Fla. Dept. of Corrections would face an overhaul, officers who injure inmates could be subject to felonies, and the state would start putting body cameras on prison guards under a prison-reform bill approved …

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article19406310.html

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Florida:
Prison Reforms Scuttled As Lawmakers Head Home

A push to reform Florida’s embattled prison system died after the House abruptly adjourned. But Senate leaders aren’t dropping the issue. Senate President Andy Gardiner said he will dispatch his own committee to investigate problems in …

http://miami.cbslocal.com/2015/04/28/prison-reforms-scuttled-as-lawmakers-head-home/

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Maryland:
Baltimore Police Cite Missteps In Arrest Of Freddie Gray; Hogan Asks For Calm

Baltimore officials acknowledged that Freddie Gray was not treated properly when he was arrested but said they are still investigating the severe spinal injury that appears to have led to his death. Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/baltimore-mayor-clergy-ask-public-for-calm-during-gray-demonstrations/2015/04/24/0f961d14-ea9e-11e4-aae1-d642717d8afa_story.html

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Maryland:
Baltimore Police Chief: ‘There Is A Visceral Hatred For The People Who Wear This Uniform.”

Since becoming Baltimore’s police chief in 2012, Anthony Batts has criticized mass incarceration and promised to eradicate police brutality from a department accused of too often using a heavy hand …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/04/23/there-is-a-visceral-hatred-for-the-people-who-wear-this-uniform?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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Maryland:
Opinion: Why Freddie Gray ran

We don’t need four investigations to answer what may be the most consequential questions posed by the events leading up to Freddie Gray’s death: Why did police approach him on April 12, why did he run, and why did they chase him …

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-freddie-gray-20150425-story.html

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Maryland:
“The Wire’s” David Simon On Baltimore’s Anguish

Baltimore’s David Simon, creator of “The Wire,” joked that probable cause in his hometown was “a police car rolling by and a guy looks at you for two seconds too long. Probable cause was whatever you thought you could safely lie about …”

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/04/29/david-simon-on-baltimore-s-anguish?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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Maryland:
Opinion: In Baltimore, We’re All Freddie Gray

Like Freddie Gray, I grew up in Baltimore, and I and everyone I know have similar stories … To us, the Baltimore police are a group of terrorists, funded by our tax dollars, who beat on people in our community daily, almost never having to …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/29/opinion/in-baltimore-were-all-freddie-gray.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Maryland:
Opinion: Giving Former Offenders A Stake In Democracy

With a bill to restore voting rights for formerly incarcerated individuals on his desk awaiting a signature, Maryland Gov. Hogan has a chance to do the right thing. The new law would make it easier for roughly 40,000 people to exercise their …

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-voting-rights-20150423-story.html

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Michigan:
Michigan Police Bulk Up With Military Surplus: Armored Trucks and Grenade Launchers

Some call it the militarization of police. Police chiefs say they’re just keeping up with the Joneses. Whatever the spin, it’s clear many West Michigan police have become better equipped to handle violent incidents thanks to the military …

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2015/04/west_michigan_police_beefing_u.html

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Nebraska:
Governor Hopes To Spread State Inmates Throughout County Jails

In his first year in office, Gov. Pete Ricketts is trying to resolve an issue Nebraska has had for a while — prison overcrowding. His plan is to move state inmates into county jails to help free up beds within the state prisons …

http://www.nbcneb.com/home/headlines/Governor-Hopes-to-Spread-State-Inmates-Throughout-County-Jails-301782161.html

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Texas:
Why Cops Aren’t Ready For Their Close-Up: A Police Officer Makes The Case For Keeping Your Distance.

“We’re not against people filming the police. Film us. We just want them to stand back. Other people have buffers. When you go to city council meetings, even though you have a right to film, you can’t walk in front of the mayor and …”

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/04/24/why-cops-aren-t-ready-for-their-close-up?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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